“This is a brutally violent film”

by Steve Pulaski

In September 2014, our theaters and favorite video-on-demand platforms were supposed to be graced by Eli Roth’s heavily hyped cannibal film The Green Inferno. The film was said to be an homage to the genre-classic Cannibal Holocaust, guided by the same man who brought us the bloodbath Cabin Fever and the torture porn-pioneer Hostel. Everything was set to go until weeks before the cross-platform release, the production company Worldview Entertainment, a company that has produced everything from Birdman to The Sacrament, reported financial difficulties and had Open Road Films pull the plug on the release date and delay the project’s release indefinitely. This put the fate of the film and its planned sequel in a bout of uncertainty, with no clear plan of when or if the film would ever see the light of day.

What I fully expected to happen with The Green Inferno was the unfortunate circumstance that has happened to a lot of films that get delayed indefinitely; they receive a low-key release directly to DVD or video-on-demand to little buzz and, regardless of quality, come and go with barely a whimper. However, when I saw a muscled ad campaign for the film over the summer, including various trailers in the theater, TV spots, and billboards, I was quite proud. Let the marketing guys and production companies for The Green Inferno be commended for not letting a project simply die when the future seemed grim; this is how you promote a film that looked to be down and out.

With that, The Green Inferno is a nasty, downright sick film, heavily reminiscent of the 1970’s Italian gorefests that found their ways into seamy grindhouse theaters and drive-ins. It’s such a bleak and uncommonly gory picture that the way it demands your attention is almost narcissistic. As wretched as it was, as bloodsoaked as it got, and as downright horrifying as it progressed, I simply couldn’t shake the entire experience and probably won’t for the remainder of the weekend.

The Green Inferno
Directed by
Eli Roth
Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Aaron Burns
Release Date
25 September 2015
Steve’s Grade: B+

The film concerns a group of college activists, led by the bossy Alejandro (Ariel Levy), who travel from New York City to the Amazon to save a native tribe that is rapidly growing extinct. They plan to attack a construction company looking to bulldoze over the natives’ land by assembling a protest before everyone on social media, launching their organization’s popularity and message virally. Justine (Lorenza Izzo) gets wind of this plan and impulsively decides to attend. When the group is traveling over the Amazon, their small plane crashes and plunges deep into a jungle, populated by violent, cannibalistic natives that take them hostage in their small village.

A film like this can’t entirely rely on the violence of the cannibals to carry itself, which is why it’s nice to see Eli Roth and Guillermo Amoedo pen some characters that are equal parts amusing and satirical. Roth and Amoedo more-or-less make these characters thinly drawn caricatures of your run-of-the-mill, liberal collegiates that think their presence alone, protesting actions that they think are morally wrong, will change the actions of corporations, natives, and a million-dollar operation. The two poke fun at this notion by making these characters wise, but cutely naive, at one moment speaking about their willingness to do good, and another moment, having one character proclaim she will make her next tattoo a new animal she discovers. The result is a genial nudge-in-the-hip to those who feel that everyone in the world would be better off if they just followed their own set of rules.

The characters here, with the exception of one, are all likable in their own way. We have Aaron Burns’ well-meaning, affable Jonah character, who tries to relax Justine when a situation goes awry and even Daryl Sabara of Spy Kids fame playing a goofy stoner, who’s problems start and end at where to score potent Peruvian marijuana.

The real attraction, however, is the gore, and there’s plenty of it, so much so that I feel people who have grown accustomed to largely bloodless paranormal affairs will wince and grow nauseous at the liberal display of blood here. This is a brutally violent film, capitalizing off of the ability to go from calm to immediately bloody (consider the scene when a certain character’s fate is finally revealed and how another character responds to it) in the same twenty seconds. This makes The Green Inferno incredibly unsettling and suspenseful, as it relies on these momentary instances that could completely alter a characters’ fate as a method of grabbing you in and taking you for a ride.

Admittedly, The Green Inferno is marketed as a bloodbath, and on that note, it does what it sets out to accomplish; it’s a nasty, unrelenting piece of horror, made to make you squirm and uncomfortable at nearly every turn. All things considered, it holds up and makes for a great piece of late-night entertainment; Eli Roth throws caution to the wind and makes one of the goriest mainstream American films since the remake of Evil Dead, and, surprisingly enough, succeeds at making this film interesting on more levels than just the bloodshed.